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Wake-Up Call

I was never too big a fan of Kobe Bryant.


I was nonchalant about him at best. I didn’t like him nor hate him. I recognized his greatness as a basketball player, but he never really took hold of me in a larger than life kind of way.


But, I did love basketball.


I would always route for my Brooklyn Nets with a fervor. And I’d remember the good old Jason Kidd days when they made it to the NBA Finals two times in a row back in 2002 and 2003.


It was great. I was on cloud nine routing for a team that I loved to support. But in 2002, Kobe and his Lakers beat my Nets clean 4-0 to win the championship for Los Angeles.


I didn’t feel good about it. But the journey of routing for my Nets is still enjoyable nonetheless. The process is just as satisfying as the goal.


Now, I can only imagine how it feels for the supporters of the Los Angeles Lakers. The ones who route for Kobe day in and day out. It must feel a bit hollow to lose someone like Kobe - and my condolences go out to them.


I remembered learning about Kobe’s passing while I was in the middle of a Lunar New Year celebration at my local temple. I thought it was fake news at first.


After all, I learned it first from the New York Post, not exactly the most reputable news publication. But then, I went onto ESPN and read the same thing, and it came as a complete shock.


I didn’t think too much of it that day, because I was busy with relatives and the Lunar New Year celebration.


But in the evening, after everything settled down, it did feel kind of hollow. Like basketball was missing a presence. There was something that should’ve been there but not there anymore. It felt somewhat inadequate.


I can sympathize for Kobe’s wife and kids. The whole world knows about his passing. I wish they can have some room for themselves to mourn in privacy - away from the limelight. It’s tough. It sucks.


Even for me, learning about his death internally shook me up. I obviously don’t know Kobe personally. But, it was a wake-up call. That death can come for us all. At the most inopportune times. Whether we are ready or not.


And in one instant, it can just take away everything - your fame, your fortune, your livelihood - everything.


Death happens all the time. How does it feel to lose a parent? To lose a child? To lose a friend? To lose a loved one?


I remembered going to sleep in my girlfriend’s apartment that night feeling a bit tired. Partly because of the day-long Lunar New Year’s celebration.


But partly also because of Kobe’s passing. I still couldn’t process it nor accept it in my head. I just kind of slept on that bed with her - holding her a little tighter than usual.


The next day, on my drive home, I talked a little bit longer to my mom and my dad. Just to hear their voices to know that they are still here by my side.


I was simply grateful for this life that I’ve been given. I’m glad that my time has not yet come. Nor for many of my loved ones.


I still have my parents. I still have many friends. I still have my girlfriend. I still have this community that I call New York City.


And I still have the means to experience living life in this world. I have quite a lot.


And I feel almost a bit guilty that I needed the significant death of a superstar to remind myself of how precious and fleeting life can be.


Everything that I take for granted, I should not. Every single breath I take, I should cherish it.


Again, I was never a big fan of Kobe Bryant. I’m more of a Nets fan. But, I do respect the imprint that he left on the game of basketball. A game that I still watch fervently today - regardless of win or lose.


He was larger than life for many people. And now, I hope that he is resting in peace.


Death is a sensitive topic. Sometimes (unfortunately) you don’t realize how life-changing it can be on the loved ones that need to endure - until it hits you yourself.


I don’t want my realization to come down to that. I need to appreciate the fleeting nature of life. And everything that is around me.


Kobe’s passing is quite a wake-up call about life in general. Appreciate every moment that we have. Be grateful of all that we experience in this world.


And may Kobe rest in peace. Thanks for the memories.

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